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The ‘creepy clown craze’ which started in America has now made its way to Britain, with pranksters hiding in bushes and jumping out to scare children.
The craze has got even more sinister in recent days with the clowns terrorising people by brandishing knives. Now police are warning that anyone dressing up in a clown costume at Halloween runs the risk of being arrested. In a bid to stop the craze, they have also asked retailers not to sell clown costumes, however shops have protested that even if they stop, ebay and Amazon will continue to sell them.
School children seem to have become one of the main targets, with a knife-wielding clown chasing a school-girl through a park in South London and clowns with knives and bats stalking children in Plymouth.
Police forces all over the country have been called out to incidents which have included a clown on a mobility scooter and a clown scaring diners by peering through a restaurant window. A pregnant woman went into labour early after she was terrified by a clown.
In the wake of the clown craze, Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, the UK’s video parenting website has put out a warning about the “horrible and even highly inappropriate outfits” shops are selling for Halloween, saying the day should be about “having harmless fun”.
She added: “Stores have become more responsible on everyday clothing, and dressing up should be no different. There is no excuse for putting profit before children’s welfare.”
Channel Mum has carried out a survey revealing that nearly half of parents (48 per cent) claim some costumes aimed at kids are now ‘too frightening’ for children.
One in seven are worried that Halloween is becoming more sinister every year and a third say costumes no longer have a traditional Halloween theme but are selected simply to scare.
It highlights terrifying costumes that are on sale for young children – which include a Jack the Ripper outfit, the possessed girl from horror movie The Exorcist and a ‘dead pet’ dressing up set.
Channel Mum claims clown outfits are being targeted at children as young as five - and have even been discounted to encourage more sales.
There is also a fear that many costumes are ‘too sexualised for young children’, with revealing outfits offered for girls aged just four. As a result, over two thirds of parents now back age-appropriate ratings on costumes.